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Man arrested at protest fights 'hostility against immigrants'

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The five brothers in Matilde Eurich’s care made their way to the U.S. after witnessing their parents’ killings in Central America.

She doesn’t know what their futures hold. The boys, ages 4 to 12, have no idea what will happen, either. They share many nights of tears.

“The children I take care of are refugees (who, with help of a family friend, fled) violence, genocide, abuse, guerilla warfare,” Eurich, a native of the Dominican Republic and Grand Rapids resident, said Thursday.

She and others showed support for immigrants at a press conference outside of Grand Rapids District Court where three protesters were arraigned after allegedly blocking traffic downtown during a demonstration.

The three, Timothy Mengel, 64, James DeShane, 40, and Amy Carpenter, 49, pleaded not guilty to disorderly conduct -willful obstruction, and failure or refusal to obey a lawful order of a police officer, court records said.

Protesters arrested for blocking traffic in downtown Grand Rapids

Mengel said he was protesting “hostility toward immigrants.” The hostility has worsened after Donald Trump became president, he said.

Mengel said he was “fighting for dignity and respect” of all immigrants in the country, documented or undocumented.

James DeShane, who was also arrested at the April 20 protest that blocked Ottawa Avenue NW across from the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse, said immigrants have important roles of the community.

“Trump might blame immigrants for unemployment and income inequality in our state, but the truth is that when immigrants are treated with dignity and respect, when they are given permanent protection from deportation, (they) are able to unionize and organize for better pay. That helps all of us.”

Gema Lowe, who helped organize the press conference, said a national movement to show the importance of immigrants is May 1.

Immigrants are asked to stay home from work and school, and not buy anything, as a way “to show the people that immigrants are the base of our economy,” Lowe said.

A march begins at noon May 1 at Garfield Park.

It is part of the Cosecha movement, an immigrant-led movement to push for permanent protection for all immigrants in the U.S.

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